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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Mary R O'Neil
HIST 590
Seattle Campus

Topics in History

Seminar on selected topics in general history, with special emphasis on preparation for field examinations. Topics vary according to interests of students and instructor.

Class description

This course will be taught jointly by Donna Yowell of the Italian Dept and Mary O’Neil of History. Their respective emphases will be the poem itself and its context, that of medieval Italy and Florence. The setting of the 13th century Italian commune, with its intense social and political conflicts will be approached through readings from contemporary chronicles and recent historical analyses. The intellectual religious and cultural context of Dante’s work are also to be examined.

Dante Alighieri's Comedy is a work of political, spiritual and poetic daring. This course will guide you through Dante's otherworldly cosmos – the harsh mimesis of Hell; the interior landscapes of Purgatory; and the disturbing paradoxes of Paradise - in an attempt to define Dante's poetics through an examination of his visionary text and your reading of it. The course follows no single approach to the poem but will address formal, structural, linguistic, literary, historical, cultural, philosophical, and theological issues raised by the text. Discussion will be in English; the text can be read in Italian or English.

Student learning goals

Reading Dante's Commedia in English or Italian

Understanding its politcal, cultural and religious context.

General method of instruction

Reading and discussion of Dante's poem and selections from 13th C chronicle accounts and recent scholarly articles.

Recommended preparation


Class assignments and grading

Grading will be based on discussion participation, and two papers.

Participation in weekly class discussions. Two papers based on course readings: one 4-5 page due mid quarter, one longer 10-12 page paper.

The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Mary R O'Neil
Date: 02/26/2008